In order to determine the protective qualities of homemade cloth masks, a team of WFBH doctors and scientists used rigorous testing, known as particulate filtration, to evaluate 13 different cloth mask designs from approximately 400 cloth masks made by volunteers.
They tested different masks made by volunteers and found two of the better options to be a double layer of cotton with a thread count of at least 180, and a two-layer mask with an outer layer of regular cotton and an inner layer of flannel.
Materials - We took those materials, cotton with a high thread count (300+), heavyweight flannel, and added a third layer of cotton fabric, a medium weight fabric with a high thread count, called interlining cotton. Interlining cotton is also very soft. Which is why it is the interior layer of all of our masks. And we used cotton fabric for each layer because cotton allows a person to breathe.
We then took the 2 layer design recommended by the CDC and Dr. Segal’s study and added a closed pocket filter containing heavyweight flannel to create a 3 layer mask that caused more filtration in the nose and mouth areas of the mask. Why? Because medical masks have filters and we wanted to duplicate the filtration of medical masks as much as possible.
But we didn’t want to create a mask that had an open pocket or required disposable filters. Open pockets, if not maintained properly, can lead to contamination. Open pockets require filters and filters can be lost or contaminated. We wanted a closed pocket filter that couldn’t be lost or easily contaminated. And we wanted to create a mask that is easy to use and wash.
Input from Doctors - We consulted with three doctors and a medical student as we developed our masks. They all agreed with our thought process.
And we took their input into consideration. For example, medical masks often irritate the skin of healthcare professionals when worn for a long period of time. And it’s important that the interior layer of cloth be white and that the exterior layer be any other color but white. Doctors and nurses don’t want to think about which side of a mask should be facing out and which side of the mask should be placed against their face. They want masks that are effective and require no thought when they are putting on their masks before work. So, all of our masks are have a white interior.
Comfort aka No Skin Irritation - We also made sure that all of our masks had soft, white, inside layer of cotton fabric that would not irritate the skin. Note: We have sold over 1000 masks and not one customer has complained of skin irritation including the three doctors and the medical student.
Durable - In addition to using soft materials that filtered contaminants well, we designed our masks to be durable. We wanted a mask that would last the estimated length of the pandemic, 12-18 months, and be easy to wash using a commercial or retail washing machine. So, we did that too! We hired professional seamstresses to sew masks that would not fall apart. The result? Not one customer has complained of a broken mask!
Design - We used a mask design created by Grace Jun, a professor of fashion at Parsons School of Design in consultation with health experts in New York. We chose Professor Jun’s design because it met the CDC’s recommendations that a mask cover the nose, mouth and chin and also fit both sides of a person’s face snugly – the better a mask fits a person’s face, the better that it filters contaminated air. Professor Jun’s design used pleats and darts and elastic ear loops to create snug fit. It does not have metal nose pieces or open filters or long ties that can drag or get tangled. And that was important too. We wanted a mask that required no thought to put on (see Input from Doctors above), fit well, and did not contain any thin metal pieces or long ties that would break or get tangled and require repair, replacement pieces or time spent untangling knots!
We hope you like and use our masks as much as we do. Thank you for reading.